(West Papua Review, 28 February 2009)
It is worth to read articles from the Independent, telegraph and dailymail about how people in UK perceive Papuans. Both sides, BBC broadcaster Michael Buerk and some people who disapprove with Buerk’s are right is some parts but mislead on the other parts. I will highlight some examples as follows:
- Buerk said that ‘If you say innate humanity, the only really primitive societies to survive into the modern age are tribes in the remote parts of New Guinea and whenever they come across a stranger they kill them.’ In my opinion, Buerk’s statement is wrong in most part of Indonesian West Papua and Papua New Guinea. However, he is right when he refers to the Free Papua Organization who love to kill for terrorizing any visitors.
- Elsham as one of the attacker of Buerk’s opinion is totally wrong when its leader claimed that the people being killed in Papua are ordinary Papuans, by the Indonesian military and police. At least 100,000 have been killed. Elsham is a human rights NGO which credibility is under question and its motivation is simply politic and power. Human rights violation might occur frequently in the past during the authoritarian regime of Indonesia. But saying that Indonesian military and police are the only human rights violators is totally misleading because there are three major actors that should be included; all elements of Free Papua Movement, Indonesian security and provocateurs like Elsham. It is clear that the intention of Elsham is creating a stable conflictual atmosphere in West Papua, so Indonesian security will continuously in “war” with Free Papua Military wing. The question then….who will get the benefit? Big multinational companies? Corrupt government officials? or great pretender NGOs? Indonesian government is too busy with so many national problems, so they can not see it clearly that the problem in Papua is the power struggle among Papuan elites, economic exploitation by multinational companies, and the fury of opportunist Papuan loosers who always sing the same song of freedom for their own personal benefit.
- Labeling Papuan tribes as primitive is unacceptable for most well educated Papuan. However, thousands of our brothers and sisters are left behind in the jungle being untouchable. Should we left our brothers and sisters alone or should we engage and help them to adapt to the modern world? Many anthropologists are successful in doing research on remote tribes communities in the world, but how many success are being made by any state in the world regarding empowering tribes people within each countries? How many American Indians were killed, how many tribes in Latin America disappeared? How many Aborigines people are still alive? How many Papuan can survive?
If we are just talking like politician or celebrities, nothing will change. It is a matter of survival. I wish there is an international organization who sincerely care and seriously make efforts in empowering tribal people based on explorative and objective approach. Unfortunately I’ve never heard about it.
In my opinion, the right policy for the world (whoever sincerely care about the matters) is to engage the government of any state in the world, NGOs (Civil Society) and grass roots people, including all tribes within each state sovereignty.
Stop the attitude of maintaining potential conflict such as becoming a great pretender of human right defender while gaining personal benefit. If we want to be human right defender, just do it profesionally without instigating hatred among people. Engage with all elements of authorities (central and local), and also withh people from different way of life.